Dozing Off While Driving is a Deadly Snooze

Drowsy driving is a public health crisis that is a deadly serious threat for all motorists and pedestrians. It affects drivers of all ages and experience levels, and even if you never drive while fatigued, you can never guarantee that other motorists aren't falling asleep the wheel.

Data Reveals the Dangers

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in every twenty-five drivers has fallen asleep at the wheel in the past 30 days. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that there are approximately 328,000 motor vehicle accidents caused by drowsy driving each year.

Of these drowsy driving accidents, 109,000 result in serious personal injuries and 6,400 of these motor vehicle accidents result in a wrongful death. These accidents create a heavy economic burden. It is estimated that the total cost to the public in terms of lost wages and medical expenses is approximately $109 billion.

Causes of Drowsy Driving

Unlike alcohol or drug related accidents, there is no single "root cause" of drowsy driving collisions. For one thing, drowsy driving can be caused by drivers who don't get enough sleep. 40% of Americans get less than 6 hours of sleep per night and the CDC estimates that roughly 70 million American adults suffer from sleep disorders.

Many consumers also take prescription and over-the-counter medications that can cause drowsiness. These include everything from antidepressants and antihistamines, to cough medicines and muscle relaxants. Consuming these medications and then driving diminishes the driver's ability to focus on the road and can cause them to fall asleep at the wheel.

Steering Clear of Drowsy Driving Accidents

You can reduce your risk of having a drowsy driving accident by adjusting your driving behaviors. If at all possible, avoid driving between midnight and 6am, as well as during the late afternoon. These are the most common times for drowsy driving accidents.

Secondly, you should get some rest. The importance of getting enough sleep cannot be underestimated. It's a dangerous mistake to think that coffee and other caffeinated products can counter the effects of missing a little sleep. When the caffeine is metabolized and wears off, it triggers a crash in energy levels that can cause you to crash your car and result in a wrongful death.

You should also pay attention to the warning labels on your medications. Always verify whether the medication can cause drowsiness. Follow the directions on the label to ensure you are not putting yourself in danger by driving.

Finally, police yourself. If your thoughts start to wander, your eyes start to droop, or your reflexes start to falter, pull over and take a break from driving. Give your body the 15-30 minutes of rest you need. In the grand scheme of life, it is an investment of time that just might save your life.

The attorneys at the Welmaker Law Firm in San Antonio can help you pursue compensation following the wrongful death of a loved one. We invite you to contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case.